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I was looking at some lightweight VPN solution like wireguard etc. If am correct, VPN provide two functionalities. 1. Tunneling which helps in anonymity 2. Encrypted channel which helps in confidentiality.

But I wounder that in case of VPN on single host or kind of remote access virtual private network. Is tunneling useful? Is anonymity property is still maintained? Or what is benefit of tunneling in case of remote access virtual private network? Can we have anonymity property in case VPN over single host?

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    Why do you think tunneling helps with anonymity? The outer packets of the tunnel still have the source and destination addresses on them. Removed the off-topic request for resources. – Ron Maupin Aug 12 '17 at 17:35
  • There are certainly VPN services that help provide anonymity, but you are missing the point. Tunneling really has nothing to do with that. The anonymity is because you are connecting to a different site that acts as your proxy, so the ultimate end-site doesn't get traffic directly from you. If you have a VPN directly to the end site, it will know what your network address is because it is on the packets. The tunnel in that case does nothing to make you anonymous. A tunnel is simply wrapping packets inside other packets. In both cases, the packets will have the source and destination addresses. – Ron Maupin Aug 13 '17 at 1:08
  • Thanks for detail response. Please clarify at the following. 1. What's the functionality of tunneling in VPN? 2. Role of tunneling in remote client access VPN? Only communicating different protocols? 3. Is there way around to provide anonymity from tunneling at all? I will close this thread with answers to those questions. :) – Sahil Gupta Aug 13 '17 at 1:26
  • Perhaps you should remove the URL (ieeexplore.ieee.org.ezproxy.rit.edu/...) in previous comment, it get you to a login page. – MatsK Aug 13 '17 at 18:33
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Non technical explanation. Hoping this helps...

Example 1: A single host VPN for a business goes from point A (your home for example) to point B (work). A tunnel is created and traffic is usually encrypted. But, the IP information of where your traffic is coming from (your home) and where it's going to (your work) is not encrypted or hidden. Otherwise routers along the way wouldn't know what to do unless they had the decrypt keys or algorithms. So, traffic is encrypted but no anonymity at that point. If the traffic at your office was traced it'd be from your house.

Example 2: You have a single host VPN on your laptop and you connect from point A (home) to a point B (3rd party company that you are paying for your VPN). At this point there's no anonymity for you yet. The traffic is encrypted though. Then, you go to a web page and it goes to point B, which has the ability to decrypt the traffic) . Point B then "re-writes" the web page request and routes it to other servers (proxies) before sending it to your desired web page. Some VPN companies can make your traffic go to a diffrent country before going to the web page. That's where anonymity comes from. If the company that owns the website tracks the traffic it will look like it only came from the company you are paying for the VPN (or the proxies they used). You are trusting the company you purchase your VPN from to keep your connections private. That's your anonymity.

This is a "layman's" way to explain this. Please understand, technically it's more complex but this should help the basic understanding.

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  • Thanks Fixitrod for detail philosophy behind VPN , From above two examples I absorb that Tunnel has nothing to do with anonymity. Also, tunnel purpose here is only to pass packet such that it can be routed through Public Network Infrastructure. – Sahil Gupta Aug 13 '17 at 16:17
  • There ya go. It can also protect the data itself and give the convenience of "being on" the far end network like I do for work. I can sit at home, connect to VPN and access everything as if I were sitting at my desk. There are other purposes as well but you get it now. – Fixitrod Aug 13 '17 at 16:23
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Tunneling is used to route between two networks that can't be routed directly, especially when private IP addresses are used. It is a kind of overlay network.

Technically, there is no difference whether you access just a single host or a complete network through the tunnel. Of course, the tunnel broker knows your real IP address but those behind the tunnel might not - they only see your private address (the one before entering the tunnel) or a local one (when using NAT).

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  • So if I establish VPN software on single host machine as in access client VPN case, it is no more providing anonymity? Right? How tunnelling provides anonymity in case of single host to host VPN communication as in case of wireguard? – Sahil Gupta Aug 13 '17 at 0:54
  • VPN is little to nothing to do with anonymity (it's unclear to me what you mean), that depends on how everything's used. – Zac67 Aug 13 '17 at 8:11

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